Palliative care is more than you think

Hakea Grove’s Nurse Practitioner, Claire Abbott

“It’s More Than You Think” is the theme for this year’s National Palliative Care Week from May 23 to 29, aimed at raising awareness about the many benefits of quality palliative care.

Hakea Grove Aged Care will run an afternoon tea to celebrate the tireless efforts of palliative care professionals and volunteers.

The afternoon tea will be held in The Grove Café at 2pm on May 27 to acknowledge and thank everyone involved in palliative care for making a difference in people’s lives.

National Palliative Care Week also presents an opportunity to highlight the work of not only hundreds of palliative care specialists and nurses, but also the support provided by general practitioners, volunteers, allied health professionals, community workers and everyone who works within the palliative care sphere.

This year’s theme seeks to broaden the community’s perceptions, understanding and appreciation of palliative care, demonstrating its role in supporting the physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs of people living with a life limiting illness, their families and their care team.

People think that if a person is under palliative care, then that person is dying now, however, palliative care means looking after the symptoms of a terminal illness which could take months or even years before the end of life stage.

Palliative care is about optimising a person’s quality of life as much as possible as well as supporting the person and their family.

Hakea Grove’s Nurse Practitioner, Claire Abbott, says that as a society, we need to be more open and discuss death.

“It’s far easier to plan and help alleviate distress factors when the time comes,” she said.

Abbott has been an aged care nurse for more than 30 years, and she finds the human aspect of her work very fulfilling.

“Due to my advanced training, we can intervene where possible to try and prevent unnecessary or adverse events from happening,” she said.

“Death, like life, is individual to the person and that’s why it is important to talk to family members and health professionals and have your wishes written down, such as an Advanced Care Directive to direct the medical team about things like the level of medical intervention and whether you want to be treated.

“Palliative care workers and services have a deep understanding of the difficult situations often faced by people near the end of their life or with a life limiting illness.

“They can be instrumental in balancing a variety of perspectives and incorporating the psychological, social and spiritual wishes of residents, their families and the staff caring for them.

“They are here to help and can also offer crucial support to help loved ones and families through their time of grief and bereavement,” Abbott said.

Harry Mulholland

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